5th October 2017 7.15pm at Odeon Leicester Square
6th October 2017 11.00am at Odeon Leicester Square
7th October 2017 5.50pm at Hackney Picturehouse
“I’ll end it with love.” A sentence strong enough to make some feel nauseous. However, Dee Rees’s Mudbound proves those words can have a sensational context and moral importance. Continuing her trilogy, the director has added to films Pariah and Bessie with her greatest challenge to date, and she doesn’t disappoint.
The third instalment stars Jason Clarke, Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, Jonathon Banks and singer/actress Mary J Blige, in a racially fuelled Mississippi picture set during the Second World War build up and aftermath. The movie starts where it means to end, with a funeral held on the muddy fields of the McAllen family farm. Brothers Henry (Clarke) and Jamie (Hedlund), struggle to lower a coffin into a grave they dug during a terrific rainstorm the previous night and request aid from the passing Jackson wagon. The Jacksons are an African American family who have a task of their own at hand, the purpose of which we are unaware. Before we know it, the audience is whisked back to pre-US World War intervention and learn the story of Henry and Laura (Mulligan). As war looms, the couple move from the city to start a country life, and Henry’s younger brother Jamie is drafted into the air force. Likewise, the Jacksons, resident upon the McAllen farm, see their oldest son Ronsel (Mitchell) march off to join the tank regiments. When the two men return, they find their country to be no different, but they themselves have changed forever. Bound by the mud they stand on, the two families, divided by race, must rely on each other, whilst unknowingly causing pain.
We start with the story told from the perspective of Laura, but this slowly alternates throughout the picture. We see her rise to freedom from the restraints of her sheltering family through Henry and also witness her demise into a life she barely acquaints to on the mud bath of a farm. The most relatable character, the audience almost view the film from Laura’s point of view, but this is shattered once the war heroes return. There is then a shift of focus away from the McAllen family to after effects of warfare on Jamie and Ronsel. No matter how much blood has been spilt – on foreign or native land – and regardless of race, the two men must find comfort in each other in an attempt to forget the war; a challenge far harder for the African American Ronsel.
The job of narrator is passed between the characters, offering an insight into their personal lives and opinions, whilst also lessening the burden on one character to be the sole protagonist and dictate the plotline. Mulligan is the epitome of the pre-war female stereotype, willing and more importantly happy to cater to her husband’s desires. There are wonderful performances from Jason Mitchell and Garrett Hedland, and the two actors offer glances at what the future may hold, not only for the two men but of what America in the following 50 years would become. The stand-out performance comes from Rob Morgan, who plays Hap Jackson, the father pastor who has experienced the turns of the tide of slavery and is trying to hold his family together despite his frailties and scepticisms.
With a beautiful period colour palette (of course with rather too much brown) Mudbound is visually glorious. Holding no prisoners in the graphic imagery department, the combination of period music, style and colour scheme make this film a lovely spectacle and its cyclical nature greatly satisfying.
Mudbound is released on Netflix on 17th November 2017.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Mudbound here: